Ph.D. Level Student
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Advised by Dr. Ahmad Fakhoury
Liposomal Encapsulation of Trichoderma Cell-free Filtrate and its Antifungal Activity Against Fusarium Virguliforme
One of the most devastating diseases on soybeans is Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS). Between 1996 and 2016, nearly $8 billion in economic losses were attributed to SDS. In the United States, soybean yield losses from SDS were estimated at nineteen million bushels in 2022. SDS is caused by the plant pathogenic fungus Fusarium virguliforme. It infects soybean seedlings early in the growing season, while severe symptoms appear during the reproductive stages. It also produces phytotoxins in the roots that are translocated to the leaves causing interveinal chlorosis and necrosis. Soybean plants may have severe defoliation and pod abortion as the disease worsens, which significantly reduces the yield. The standard methods for managing SDS are the use of resistant cultivars and fungicide seed treatments. Additional tools are needed to complement these practices and to increase the choices available to producers to manage SDS and reduce the economic impact of the disease. The use of biological control to help manage plant diseases is widely used nowadays. Several isolates belonging to the genus Trichoderma have been reported to be efficient biocontrol agents. In this study, a cell-free filtrate from a Trichoderma sp. isolate was extracted and encapsulated within nanoscale liposomes (called nanoliposomes). We present here our preliminary studies on the synthesis and characterization of nanoliposomes for their use against fungal mycelial growth and spore germination of F. virguliforme. The nanoliposomes were characterized using transmission electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering, and UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy. Ongoing in-vitro assays are being conducted to determine the effect on F. virguliforme mycelial growth and spore germination.